Quantcast i24NEWS - Ex-US envoy says Trump's Jerusalem comments could be 'death knell' for peace

Ex-US envoy says Trump's Jerusalem comments could be 'death knell' for peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and the US Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro, seen in 2014, met two days after the US abstained from voting on a UN resolution against Israeli settlements
JACK GUEZ (AFP/File)
Last week Donald Trump said Jerusalem was no longer an issue in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

US President Donald Trump’s comment that he has taken Jerusalem “off the table” as negotiating issue between Israelis and Palestinians could be the “death knell” of the peace process, Barack Obama’s envoy to Israel warned on Tuesday.

“President Trump’s language when he speaks about ‘taking Jerusalem off the table’ is terribly imprecise. We don’t really know what he means,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro told i24NEWS in an interview at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.

Ahead of a meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week in Switzerland, Trump said the status of Jerusalem was longer an issue after he announced last year that the US was recognizing Israel’s claim to the holy city as its capital.

While Israel annexed the city after its victory in the 1967 war, the Palestinians claim the eastern parts of it as the capital for their future state.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reacted to Trump’s remark by saying that "if Jerusalem is off the table, America will be off the table as well” and repeated that they no longer saw the US as an honest peace broker.

“If [Trump] means that there is nothing left to negotiate and Palestinians have no hope of achieving some of their aspirations, including a capital of their state in portions of East Jerusalem, that clearly is going to be a death knell to any prospect of a future negotiation,” Shaprio, who was Obama’s envoy in Tel Aviv from 2011 to January 2017 said.

“No Palestinian leader would be able to negotiate on those terms.”

Nicholas Kamm (AFP)

However, Shaprio said that while the statement was construed as Trump rejecting the core Palestinian demand, he may have just misspoken.

According to Shapiro, several members of the Trump administration have indicated that what the president actually meant was that he removed from discussions Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital and whether the US embassy will be located in West Jerusalem, which Shaprio says are “reasonable things to take off the table.”

“Of course it would have been smarter if he had been able to capture that decision as part of the broader strategic objective where all sides could see what they might be able to achieve,” Shapiro said. 

He also criticized the Palestinian leadership’s decision to give the Trump administration the cold shoulder until they reverse their Jerusalem decision, saying it is a “mistake” because “there is no other partner” rather than the US.

Trump’s comments in Switzerland, in which he also demanded Palestinians return to negotiations with Israel have Washington’s economic aid withdrawn, were seen as further diminishing the chances of a successful resumption of talks.

Shapiro said the prospect of talks soon “are very poor”, pointing to “severe mistrust” between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, their own domestic political challenges, failed negotiations of the past, and what he called Abbas’ “overreaction” to the Jerusalem announcement.

He argued that if the United States cuts off its relationships with the Palestinians and its assistance to the Palestinian Authority “it will make it much more difficult for the United States to be the mediator that only the United States can be in a successful peace negotiation.”

Israel is well aware that a break between the US and Palestinians would also contribute to regional instability, he claimed.

“Every Israeli military and security official I know wants to see the United States stay engaged [and] continue our assistance because it is an important contributor to stability.”

Tune in to the Rundown from 8pm IST (1pm EST) to hear an interview the UN's special envoy for the peace process. You can watch it live here. 

Comments

(3)

Those who live with and promote lies find the truth intolerable.

"When you have em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."

One man’s opinion who served a discredited anti Semitic and anti Israel Obama and his administration. His words mean nothing.

8Previous articlePalestinian, Israeli ministers meet after US Jerusalem move
8Next articleUN peace envoy criticizes Abbas speech, warns Gaza on brink of 'collapse'